DRIVER TRAPPED: Man Waits 44 Hours For Rescue

An Ottumwa man spent two nights waiting to be rescued after crashing his car into a ditch along Highway 63.

“There’s plenty of traffic on this roadway,” says Wapello County Chief Deputy Don Phillips.

But to passing traffic, the ditch along the highway between the two bridges near Eddyville is hidden from view.

“We’d been by it numerous times,” says Cindy Van Genderen.

On Sunday afternoon,  a truck driver hauling grain called saying something caught his eye.

“He told us he saw a glimpse of a fairly mangled car down in the ditch in the creek,” says Van Genderen.

When she went down the road, she found a man pinned in his car and he was unresponsive at first.

“He was very cold.  His hands were very cold when I got to him.  He was hurt very bad,” says Van Genderen.

“When we first got the call we were under the understanding that it had just occurred,” says Phillips.

Authorities say 60-year-old Patrick Douglas fell asleep at the wheel on his way home to Ottumwa Friday evening between 5 and 6 PM.  Douglas spent 44 hours trapped in his car.

“They think the steering wheel and the dash had him pinned in the vehicle from the impact when it hit,” says Phillips.

Those first on the scene say Douglas told them how he managed to survive.

“On Saturday evening when it rained here in Ottumwa that he actually stuck his hand out the windshield to gather water to drink while he was in there,” says Phillips.

“I’m glad we could help.  I just pray that he’s OK,” says Van Genderen.

Douglas was airlifted to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines where he remains in critical condition tonight.


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